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Federal Employees News Digest : July 8, 2013
Kristi Dougherty General Manager Phil Piemonte Managing Editor Sherkiya Wedgeworth Online Managing Editor Becky Fenton Circulation Manager Nathan Abse Writer Mike Causey Columnist Edward Zurndorfer Columnist Published by 1105 Government Information Group, Anne Armstrong, President. 1105 Government Information Group is part of 1105 Media, Inc. Neal Vitale, CEO. Corporate Headquarters: 1105 Media, Inc. 9201 Oakdale Ave., Suite 101, Chatsworth, CA 91311 www.1105media.com Office: 8609 Westwood Center Drive, Suite 500 Vienna, VA 22182-2215 Phone: Editorial: (703) 891-8554 Subscriptions: (800) 989-3363 Fax: (703) 876-5130 Internet: www.FederalDaily.com Subscription Rates: 1 year---$39 Site Licenses are available: E-mail: FENDsitelicense@ FederalDaily.com For single article reprints (in minimum quantities of 250-500), e-prints, plaques and posters contact: PARS International Phone: (212) 221-9595 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.magreprints.com/QuickQuote.asp The Comptroller General has ruled that federal agen- cies and departments may buy Federal Employees News Digest publications with government funds. This decision is No. B-185591. Federal Tax ID 20-4583700. DUNS #612031414. FEDERAL EMPLOYEES NEWS DIGEST (ISSN 1065-0970) is published weekly except first week in January and last week in December by 1105 Media, Inc., 9201 Oakdale Avenue, Suite 101, Chatsworth, CA 91311. Annual subscription rate is: US $39. Subscription inquiries and customer service: Mail to: Federal Employees News Digest, PO Box 15428, N. Hollywood, CA 91615-5428, customerservice@feder- aldaily.com or call (800) 989-3363, fax (818) 487-4550. © Copyright 2013 by 1105 Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproductions or distribution in whole or part prohibited except by site license or reprint purchase. The information in this newsletter has not undergone any formal testing by 1105 Media, Inc. and is dis- tributed without any warranty expressed or implied. Implementation or use of any information contained herein is the reader's sole responsibility. While the information has been reviewed for accuracy, there is no guarantee that the same or similar results may be achieved in all environments. Technical inaccuracies may result from printing errors and/or new develop- ments in the industry. This publication's subscriber list, as well as other lists from 1105 Media, Inc., is available for rental. For more information, please contact our list manager, Merit Direct. Phone: (914) 368-1000; E-mail: 1105media@ meritdirect.com; Web: www.meritdirect.com/1105. July 8, 2013 Vol. 62, No. 49 2 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com about federal and postal workers concerned pay raises. The presidents would propose one figure, some members of Congress would set a different amount. The unions also had their number. Hearings went on, and on, and on. It took months to decide how big the next raise would be. The idea that there would not be ANY raise never crossed our minds. Then Congress was restructured. The Post Office-Civil Service Committees (which were loaded with pro-fed politicians with very, very cozy relationships to federal and postal unions) were reorganized: Now they are called Governmental Affairs, and the care and feeding of federal and postal workers is but a minor part of their port- folio. The chairpersons of both commit- tees---under Democrats or Republicans--- have minimal interest in the civil service. They mostly investigate the sins, real and imagined, of the president and administra- tion (if he is of the other party). As a result of the internal changes in Congress, tighter lobbying laws---which make it less easy to wine and dine members and staffers---different members and dif- ferent committees now set the pace for civil service pay and benefits. The economic downturn prompted President Obama, who had the backing of all major federal and postal unions, to propose the two-year pay freeze. That was extended a third year by Congress, with White House approval. Now the White House and Congress agree that feds must pay more for their pen- sions, and that a new system (the so-called chained CPI) is needed to measure---and reduce---the size of future cost-of-living adjustments for federal and military retirees and, most importantly, people who get Social Security. Even trimming future raises by 0.4 percentage points will save billions over time. Retirees---if it happens---will get less and most won't even notice it. The other real threat to current and retired federal workers is a bipartisan plan---which still must be introduced and passed---that would introduce a voucher system to the federal health program. Currently the government pays about 72 percent of the average premium of the typ- ical federal employee. The Postal Service (because of its union contracts) pays an even greater share of its employees'---but not retirees'---premiums. That government share is guaranteed by law and it remains steady each year. even as premiums go up. As they almost always do. And will again in 2014. Under the proposed voucher plan, workers and retirees would get a fixed dollar amount from the government to buy insurance. In some cases, at least at first, the voucher would cover most if not all of the premium. Workers who selected more costly and comprehensive plans (the so- called Cadillac-coverage plans) would pay a greater share of the premium. The amount they pay (not covered by the voucher) would increase each year. Backers of the plan---which includes the Obama administration---say it would encourage workers and retirees to shop for the most cost-effective plans, while leaving them with the ability to pick any plan they think best for themselves and their families. Opponents say vouchers would force lower-income workers and retirees into bargain-basement plans with smaller pre- miums. And reduce their usage of health plans. Nobody can say which, if any, of the proposals will be implemented. All would require legislation, debate and a vote in the House and Senate, and the president's sig- nature. Given what else is happening in the world, they are relatively low on the legisla- tive priority list. But they are out there, and they bear watching... Many people say that if changes are made, that some of them, maybe all of them, will be prospective. That is, that current employees would be grandfathered in. That their level of benefits and payments would remain the same. That only new hires would be impacted if the changes are made. Bottom line: You've heard the cry of "wolf " many times before. So far, for the most part, so good. Most of it didn't happen. But times are different, the political and economic mood is different, and anything could happen. Government, as an employer, may not change for you as an existing employee. Or if it does, it may not change much. But future federal workers may find out that this isn't their grandfather's civil service. Or the outfit their parents joined. Stay tuned. INSIGHT by Mike Causey continued from page 1
July 1, 2013
July 15, 2013